Sheffield flocks survive spates of thefts

Sheep in Sheffield aren’t going missing quite as much as national statistics would have you believe.

It was reported yesterday by the BBC that last year 10,000 sheep went missing in England and Wales.

This figure is a rise from 6,337 in 2016 and 7,606 in 2017. Out of all of these missing sheep, the police only made one arrest in 2018.

It was reported that Humberside had seen the highest increase followed by North Yorkshire and Dorset tied in second place.

The theft of a sheep, especially a female, can set a farmer back by hundreds of pounds showing just how valuable they are.

So how does it compare in South Yorkshire and Sheffield?

At first glance it would seem that farmers around Sheffield haven’t suffered much from this problem.

Andrew Clark, 51, from Hangram Lane Farm located on Hangram Lane said it’s hard to steal sheep around Sheffield.

“It’s more noticeable around here as its urban and easy to keep track of the sheep.”

Over 10 years ago, Mr Clark’s son had some pet black sheeps that were sadly stolen. However, the farm has not seen anything since related to sheep theft.

Other farms such as Totley Hall Farm, located in Totley, have never lost any in over 30 years of keeping them.

Angela Battye from Firs Farm, located on Ringinglow Road also said they have not experienced this problem.

However Nick Denniff, 55, a farmer from Holmesfield, has had a very different experience.

His farm lost 27 sheep in 2017 and over the last five years he has lost around 30-40 from his flock of 800 Scottish Blackface.

Two Scottish Blackface sheep

He said: “This is not someone stealing a Mars bar from a shop. We know when it happens. Poaching and theft of animals is as old as Robin Hood.”

Mr Denniff explained, farmers today can easily find out if sheep are missing due to the use of electronic identification (EID) which came into force 1 January 2010.

This device allows farmers to identify sheep quickly and any who have gone missing when the time comes to gather them up.

An EID tag

Just one sheep that Mr Denniff breeds can earn him up to £300 over 10 years but despite the thefts, he remains positive and praises the local police for being very proactive in helping him.